TEXAS, USA — At least eight colleges and universities in Texas were evacuated or put into shelter-in-place status Thursday morning after hoax calls about active shooters.
- Texas A&M University in College Station
- Del Mar College in Corpus Christi
- Texas Wesleyan in Fort Worth
- Collin College in Plano
- Galen College of Nursing in San Antonio
- Tyler Junior College in Tyler
- Baylor University in Waco
- Lamar Institute of Technology in Beaumont
Lamar Institute of Technology in Beaumont reported a false active shooter call just before 10:20 a.m.
In Corpus Christi, Del Mar College Heritage Campus issued a shelter-in-place warning for students and staff at 10:28 a.m. due to a call about an active shooter. Police cleared the campus and issued an "all-clear" at 10:47 a.m.
Corpus Christi Police Department Lt. Michael Pena said that whether it's a hoax or not -- CCPD will treat all threats the same.
"This turned out to be a hoax call, but we're going to treat every single one of these calls that come into our dispatch as if it's an actual active shooter call," he said.
Students on campus at the time said that they had mixed reactions about the situation.
Del Mar student Autumn Bird said that she didn't know how to process the situation as it was happening. Bird was one of many students who were notified after about 19 minutes that it was a hoax, and given the all-clear that there was no shooter.
"When I first heard it, I was a bit hesitant because I wanted to know if it was true or if it was also a hoax," she said.
While some students were relieved -- others were frustrated. Del Mar student Dustin Cronan said that wasting law official's time can take them away from real emergencies.
"You never play a game with 911, it's a waste of their time. They got emergencies to go to and they don't have time for games like this at all," he said.
It is unclear if the hoax calls are connected.
Del Mar officials said they are aware of the other hoax calls around Texas but are not in contact with those other schools. The call was documented and a CCPD detective will investigate. The caller faces charges of false alarm or report, a Class A misdemeanor. When multiple active shooter calls happen in different areas, Pena said the situation is addressed at each location first, then law enforcement works together with other departments to aid in the investigation.
"Is there a possibility that they could be related and maybe that other agency has some information that we don't have, you know. It's important for us to share information with those other law enforcement agencies, help each other out to get this solved," he said.
This sentiment being shared by law agencies across the state.
"Just today, across the state of Texas, there have been at least seven calls like this that are hoax active shooting calls," Sgt. Washington Moscoso of San Antonio Police Department said.
The sergeant added that it cost the department considerable manpower and resources to respond to hoaxes.
"Some people get a kick out of it, some people think it is funny. We take these very seriously. As you can see, all the resources we spent here today, officers clearing the building. We disrupted the building behind us. You know, it's a school. All the students from that building had to be evacuated from that building in a safe and orderly manner to make sure this was a hoax call and not a real situation," Sgt. Moscoso said.
Officials with the Texas Department of Public Safety also gave this statement when asked about the hoax calls:
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is continuously monitoring events and their impact on public safety. While we do not discuss operational specifics, DPS will continue to work with local law enforcement and adjust operations as needed address any potential threats.
The FBI also issued a statement regarding the situation.
The FBI is aware of hoax threats or swatting incidents that have occurred nationwide and throughout the state of Texas, including today in the Tyler area. The FBI takes swatting very seriously because it puts innocent people at risk. While we have no information to indicate a specific and credible threat, we continue to work with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners to gather, share, and act upon threat information as it comes to our attention. We urge the public to remain vigilant, and report any and all suspicious activity and/or individuals to law enforcement immediately.
Del Mar officials told 3NEWS that safety protocols were followed in response to the call and will continue to work closely with CCPD and others to address the concerns.